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Brentford Surveyors - John Henry Strachan


Peter King has researched details of the first four Brentford Surveyors appointed following the Public Health Act 1875. See intro page for further details.

John Henry Strachan


Born 12th Feb 1864 Willington Quay, Howdon,a small village on the banks of the Tyne.
The son of Allan Strachan, a river pilot, and Jane Strachan (formerly Richardson).

He was educated at the local Stevenson Memorial School, and later at Ryders Academy North Shields.

Apprenticed to Naylor and Bell civil engineers Newcastle upon Tyne, a company engaged in surveying and railway works etc.

In 1883 he came south to take up the position of assistant (possibly clerk) to his brother G R Strachan, who was surveyor/engineer to Chiswick Local Board. He was to receive an annual salary of £80.

1885 saw him the successful applicant for the position of assistant to F W Lacey surveyor/engineer to Brentford Local Board. His salary £65 per annum, later increased to £80.

In May 1889 F W Lacey took up the position of surveyor/engineer to the Bournemouth Improvement Commissioners. Strachan was one of the many applicants for the Brentford post, and was appointed at a salary of £200 per annum.

In August 1894 Strachan was appointed surveyor to Heston and Isleworth at a salary of £400 per annum. His time with Heston and Isleworth was short as an attack of influenza followed by pneumonia proved fatal on 6th March 1895.



On 2nd September 1891 in Gateshead Congregational Church he married Louisa Burnip.

The marriage produced two children: Gladys born in Brentford 1892, and Hope born 1st August 1895.

At the time of her husbands death Louisa was pregnant, and Hope was born at the Clapham home of her late husbands brother G R Strachan.

Louisa moved back to the Newcastle Upon Tyne area,at one time running a lodging house. She never remarried. She died in 1952, at the age of 87. She had been a widow for 57 years. In Dec of that year, her ashes were placed in her husbands grave in Ealing Cemetery.


Local Man

Whilst in Brentford Strachan was much involved in local sporting matters.

In 1887 he was co founder of the Brentford Rowing Club, and it was at a meeting of this club on 16th Nov 1889 that the Brentford Football Club was launched, and he accepted the invitation to become a vice president.

By 1892 he was chairman of Brentford Football Club, a position he relinquished in 1894 when taking up his appointment with Heston and Isleworth.

As a mark of respect, and to enable members to attend the funeral on 9th March 1895, the match due to be played that day was cancelled.

He was committee member of the Boston Park Cricket Club.

Diaries of Fred Turner, the one time Brentford Librarian, refer to visits with the Strachan’s. An entry for December 1891 states "Mrs S is very jolly", and that for March 10th 1892 reads "Went to Strachan’s house to tea and supper -pleasant musical evening".


Professional Qualifications

Institute Of Civil Engineers: Application October 1892 (proposed by F W Lacey). Elected an associate member on the 6th December 1892.

In their obituary the Institute refer to him as a capable engineer of untiring industry, great geniality and scrupulous honesty.

The Municipal and County Engineers: Strachan’s appointment as surveyor/engineer to the Brentford Board enabled him to apply for membership, and he was elected member 8th June 1889.

His Works

His time with the various local boards saw him involved in major drainage schemes, street paving, road improvement etc.

Whilst in Brentford he was responsible for the design and completion of the towns first purpose built market, opened in May 1893. At the reception following the opening, local board members praised his skill and ability, and considered him the “best surveyor/engineer a town could have”.

He oversaw the construction of the Brentford isolation hospital, and just prior to leaving Brentford,he had prepared plans for a Fire station and baths.



The 1891 census sees him living as a boarder at 1, Bonchurch Villas, Windmill Rd Brentford. This is the address appearing on the marriage certificate.

The 1893/94 Brentford directory has the family living at “Arranmore” 41, Windmill Rd Brentford.

On taking up his appointment with Heston and Isleworth, the family moved to “Saltwood House” 161, Hanworth Rd Hounslow, and it was from here that he was taken to his grave.

All of the above properties remain, but with different house numbers.

John Henry Strachan's life

Born: Willington Quay, Northumberland. 12th February 1864
Son of Allan Strachan River Pilot and
Jane Strachan (Richardson)
J H was younger brother of G R Strachan one time Surveyor to Chiswick

1871 Census Willington Quay Howden
  • Allan Strachan 58 Head River pilot
  • Jane Strachan 44 Wife
  • George R Strachan 14 Son
  • Isabella Strachan 12 Dau
  • John H Strachan 7 Son

1891 Census Bonchurch Villas Windmill Road Brentford

  • Robert Stevens 43 Head Carpenter
  • Eliza Stevens 40 Wife
  • Samuel G Stevens 15 Son Railway Assistant
  • John S Stevens 13 Son Auctioneers Assistant
  • Lydia K Stevens 11 Dau Scholar
  • Mary F Stevens 9 Dau Ditto
  • Sophie E Stevens 4 Dau Ditto
  • Alice L Stevens 2 Dau
  • John H Strachan 27 Boarder Civil engineer & surveyor

Marriage: 2nd Sep 1891 Gateshead Congregational Church
John Henry Strachan 27 Surveyor Father Allan Strachan Deceased
Louisa Burnip 26 Spinster Father John Burnip Draper

1893/94 Directory “Arranmore” 41, Windmill Road Brentford John Henry Strachan

1894 until his death in March 1895 Saltwood House, Hanworth Rd, Hounslow
John H Strachan
Louisa Strachan
Gladys Strachan Born Brentford 1892

Death: 6th March 1895 Saltwood House Hanworth Road
John Henry Strachan
Influenza followed by pneumonia
Estate £1102.18.2

Birth: 1st August 1895
At the time of Strachans death his wife was carrying their second child.
A daughter “Hope” was born at the home of her uncle G R Strachan
3, Lessar Ave Clapham.


The Funeral

In addition to family members,the funeral was attended by representatives from Heston and Isleworth and Brentford Councils, Brentford Football Club, Brentford Rowing club, and the Brentford Lodge of Freemasons. The cortege left Saltwood House and on reaching Brentford Bridge it was met by a large number of representative Brentonians. A service was held at Brentford Wesleyan Church, and at its conclusion the cortege continued to Ealing Cemetery. Many of the shops in Hounslow and Brentford were closed, and private houses had their blinds drawn.

Louisa Strachan, widow

1901 Census Grove Street Elswick Newcastle Upon Tyne

  • Louisa Strachan 35 Head Widow Lodging House Keeper
  • Gladys Strachan 8 Dau
  • Hope Strachan 5 Dau
  • George A Forster 17 Boarder Merchants Clerk
  • William E Forster 20 Boarder Merchants Clerk
  • Florence F?? 18 Svnt Domestic Servant

1911 Census 15 Otterburn Tce Jesmond Newcastle Upon Tyne

  • STRACHAN, Louisa Head Widow F 46 1865 Private Means Newcastle on Tyne
  • STRACHAN, Gladys Daughter Single F 18 1893 School Brentford Middx
  • STRACHAN, Hope Daughter Single F 15 1896 School Clapham London S W
  • JOHNSON, Minnie Servant Single F 22 1889 General Servant Newcastle on Tyne

Death: 1952 Westminster Louisa Strachan 87


Page published September 2011